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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Installation of my exhibition in a few days…

"Territories Series": Land, 2008, mixed media on wood panel, 10"x10"

The garage - which is my studio - is clearing up: almost all the paintings for the exhibition are ready to go and are stocked in the living room now.

As I am getting ready, I am also working on “Territories Series”, a new group of small paintings inspired by the news. Myanmar, China, Tibet, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Palestine: the list is long where people are displaced, are looking for a land to stay, to rest, to reconstruct their lives.

Although the theme is serious, I find the paintings light and hopeful.

I continue to paint, I continue to make images.

The weather is warming up and lots of bees pay a visit to the backyard. The canyon is peaceful and inspiring, just looking at it is uplifting. This morning I am listening to “Raising Sand” by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: she has an amazing voice and some of the songs are spell bounding.

Ivan Sigg's blog

Ivan Sigg in his studio, Paris, January 2007

I enjoy reading Ivan’s blog every day. The pictures, the way he writes, his humor, the quotes he chooses: it is a delight! And I love the fact that he is so connected with the present. I wish his blog was also written in English, I could share it with my friends here.

Thank you Ivan for that gift!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A day in L.A. / Bergamot Station:
Santa Monica Museum of Art

We go to Bergamot Cafe to get a late lunch. The split pea soup is delicious, we enjoy the shaded patio for a while. It is very peaceful.

Farmlab, "Junker garden"

Then we head to The Santa Monica Museum of Art. Outside the museum I take a photograph of a “Junker Garden” by Farmlab: a Mercedes transformed in a pot planted with ferns.
"The Gardens are a result of Farmlab's ongoing project to generate viable urban agricultural models that are not dependent on land ownership, an effort inspired by the 2006 eviction of the nearby South Central Farmers."

Inside the Museum (I cannot take pictures inside), the exhibition “The Puppet Show” presents twenty-seven contemporary artists who explore the imagery of puppets, in sculpture, video and photography: Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Nauman, Annette Messager, Kiki Smith, Dennis Oppenheim, Laurie Simmons, William Kentridge, to name a few.

Bruce Nauman’s video “A violent incident” opens the dance and sets the tone. I saw that video many years ago in Paris and I remember being riveted to it: it never ends, always restarts. The violence erupts between two people that we believe are a couple, and then the scene starts again. I recognize from afar a piece by Louise Bourgeois: a weird mobile with hanging limbs made of stitched pieces of fabrics. I do not feel much; maybe I became immune to that work. Next to it is a piece by Mike Kelley: a set of furniture with puppet size clothes hanging in weird places (over the foot of the bed, for example). The puppet theme puts me in a strange mood: it is like walking on the set of a horror movie like “Chucky”. I do not like very much all the puppets looking at me, all strangely alive, like in the work by Laurie Simmons: the large photos representing a real woman within groups of male puppets. I shiver.

One piece gets my attention, I find it very poetic. It is “What will come”, a 2007 piece by William Kentridge: “an anamorphic film reflected in a cylinder, 35 mm film transferred to DVD, 8:40mn”. I am looking at a turning table where images (black and white drawings) are projected from the ceiling and do not seem to make sense. In the center of the table is a vertical cylinder which also turns. The images are reflected on the cylinder and there I can see a movie. It is very dreamy but things happen, it is hard to say what. Figures, forests, war, destruction. The drawings are very sensual. The piece is harrowing.

Close to it is another piece by Louise Bourgeois, “Henrietta”, a huge leg, half prosthetic, black, made of bronze is suspended in a corner. Heavy and somber. There are some videos I do not feel like watching and then I see “Faire Parade”, a 1985 piece by Annette Messager. It is a stuffed pair of children’s pajamas, suspended and pierced by a lot of colored pencils. I am thinking of a magic doll pierced with needles. “We are all puppets, we manipulate and we are manipulated” says Annette Messager.

More videos around, I watch some of them.

Ok, I need some fresh air now!

We saw many other spaces, shapes, colors, frames, objects and more.

“What would you be if you were not a human?”

One of the spaces I really liked is Hiromi Paper International, a small temple of exquisite papers, I could have stayed there forever, looking, touching (a little), enjoying the material. Also there was a beautiful wall, part of the Santa Monica Museum of Art: “Wall Works – Blik and me”. “What would you be if you were not a human?” This question was asked by wall graphics design firm Blik and answered by 250 local school children with images ranging from animals to Australia.

Each Student contributed an original black and white drawing which Blik converted into a colorful decal. Then they assembled all the decals together. The result is a refreshing long wall full of multi colored drawings.

We are heading back to San Diego now, not really ready for the two-hour drive but it is always worth it to come here to see some art. I have never been deceived. I wish I could come more often!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A day in L.A./ Bergamot Station: D3 Projects

D3 Projects,
"Dissociate" by Vanessa Matthews

We arrive at Bergamot Station, it is our first visit and we decide to go around, starting at D3 Projects, a small gallery, next to the Michigan Avenue entrance, which presents "Dissociate" an exhibition by Vanessa Matthews. Nice surprise: dozens of dolls are hanging from the ceiling, a big soft sculpture stands in the middle of the unique room and on the walls are displayed small paintings on wood panels. Walking around, one can read words on the paintings: lovely, dissociate, toxic, strange, oven, sabotage, back-off!

It has a childish feeling mixed with a comic aesthetic (reminiscent of Gorillaz: with a lot of humor).

The dolls are made of all sorts of different materials: fur, canvas, vinyl, leather, fleece, rubber, capsules, voile, silk, suede, taffeta, and so on. They all have a name on a list on the desk at the entrance of the gallery: Sad Girl, Heart Boy, Bag Head, evil cupcake, and more. They are for sale individually. But I think the whole series is interesting as it is.

“Characters were born out of this process of expressing the artist's pent up aggravation: Parking tickets, road rage, traffic, inflation, ignorance, control freaks and the annoyance of being forced to comply with pointless rules sparked the lives of personalities who could speak her suppressed language. Through the rants of these angry little children, Matthews grants anyone trapped in the confines of adulthood the permission to say all the things that propriety forbids.”

I like to be surprised by the way a body of work is presented and this presentation is definitely interesting. I would like my children to see this exhibition!

Let's go to the next gallery...

Dissociate by Vanessa Matthews
D3 Projects
Bergamot Station
March 15 - May 30, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

A day in L.A. / Bill Lowe Gallery

Bill Lowe Gallery. On the wall: Trush Holmes, “Days”

Saturday. I am going to L.A. with my friend Jane (who wrote an essay about my work) and her daughter. Jane wanted to see the new work of photographer Gregory Crewdson at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. We arrive after the typical two-hour drive: there is a paper on the door, the gallery is closed. Other people are like us: they did not know. It happens. We decide to go to Bill Lowe Gallery in Santa Monica. It is not far. The gallery is immense, airy, with very high ceilings. All of the pieces flow together and it is a pleasure to walk and to see the art. First some large abstract paintings by Steve Seinberg, then, through a corridor some pieces by Michael David, strange thick sculptures/paintings made of oil and wax on fiberglass. One, “Chorten with Reds,” makes me think of damaged skin viewed under a microscope, kind of scary! Then some pieces under glass by Gary Komarin. I like the one painted on a series of grocery bags.

We are now in the middle of the gallery. Here, on both sides there are stacks of paintings which, I guess, can be easily pulled and shown. Some prints are on the floor. An untitled large mixed media piece by Todd Murphy takes up almost an entire wall: a man-deer on a very dark background, slightly shinning under a coat of acrylic.

Todd Murphy, "Untitled".

On the opposite wall, an impressive piece by Michael David, “Red Jackie large”, a mixed media resin on panel. In the main room, a piece by Trush Holmes, “Days”, takes a wall: it is almost 200 inches long. Shiny, attractive, colorful: there is a good energy coming out of it. On the other walls, some paintings by Gary Komarin.

While I am looking at these pieces, the pieces on the floor next to the shelves of paintings have been changed and when I go back there, there are more pieces by Trush Holmes.

Even the floor is impressive in this gallery: raw concrete coated with a transparent varnish.

I meet Christian Nelson and Laura Clemons: they are very friendly. Following Laura’s advice, we decide to go to Bergamot Station, also in Santa Monica.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Entering MySpace's Universe

Life at the Border (detail), 2008, acrylic on canvas, 36"x48"

I started a page on MySpace. It is not easy to understand how to proceed, I wanted something which looks OK, so I had to put my hands in the html. It seems to be an interesting adventure: I choose my friends within the artists/galleries/museums and magazines community. I hope to build a nice network of people from San Diego.

I am very happy to be a friend of Gus Van Sant but apparently you never know who exactly is behind a page!
A few days ago I received a request from Rene Clair (a French Filmmaker who died in 1981) to be on his friends list… In “awards” you will find “Venice International film Festival, 1924”, in “interests”, you will find “ Surrealism”, in “Music”, “Erik Satie” and the movie lists starts with “Paris qui Dort” (1924) and “Entr’acte” (1924)…

In the messages people sent, there is this one, from S.E.A.N:
“Thank you for the invite Rene!!!
You are welcome to listen to my sound, read my blogs, look at my art etc...
and I will do the same....
Have a great weekend new friend!!!”

Surrealist indeed!
In the list of Rene Clair’s friends you will find Robert Desnos (who died in 1945), “Red Light Razorgirl: Sexual Graffiti Arts” (she wears her panty on her head), and “Dr Joseph Suglia: The Greatest Author in the World”.

To be continued…

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sand, grass and clay

The kids brought back some clay from the park. They found it underneath the sand in the sand area, after digging for some time. They were pretty excited about their discovery! Then they wanted to take it home. They made a ball with it to make transporting it much easier and also took some sand in an empty plastic bottle. At home, on the deck, they decided to make a forest with the clay, the sand, and pieces of slick grass they picked in the backyard. They took their time, talking to each other about how to proceed. They glued all the elements together with water. The result is a very delicate series of island-like small landscapes with trees on top. They asked me to take some pictures.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg

“A Conversation Between Robert Rauschenberg, Calvin Tomkins & Paul Schimmel”

(from left to right: Paul Schimmel,
Robert Rauschenberg and Calvin Tomkins)

Robert Rauschenberg died yesterday.
In May 2006, I went with a group of artists friends to the MOCA in Los Angeles to see “Robert Rauschenberg: Combines",
an exhibition organized by chief curator Paul Schimmel. We stayed in Los Angeles for the weekend. Saturday night was the opening and Sunday there was “A Conversation Between Robert Rauschenberg, Calvin Tomkins & Paul Schimmel”. I remember a very good time. Rauschenberg, despite his illness (he was in a wheel chair and one of his arms seemed to be very stiff), was very cheerful, happy, full of humor. We all laughed together. Rauschenberg, Paul Schimmel and Calvin Tomkins seemed extremely happy to be there and to share the moment.

The Centre Pompidou, Paris, banner for “Robert Rauschenberg: Combines"

“Robert Rauschenberg: Combines" at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, december 2006

A few months later I was fortunate enough, being in Paris at the time, to have seen “Robert Rauschenberg: Combines" again in the Centre Pompidou. It was a gloomy day, and the exhibition brought me joy. The setting of the exhibition was completely different and so I saw it with news eyes.

I am happy to know that, even if Rauschenberg died yesterday, it is still possible to see his work. Something he left for us to enjoy for a long time. This is the miracle of art.

Carver Elementary Career Day

Middle east, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 36"x60"

A few days ago I went to Carver Elementary School with Andrea Chamberlin, the Director of the San Diego Art Department (SDAD) to participate in the school’s Career Day, like we did two years ago. We set up a table with some information about the San Diego Art Institute (SDAI) and a banner “SDAI: Art Local and Alive”.

I brought some pictures of me working on my paintings, photos of exhibitions I participated in, and photos of art projects I made with children. I also brought some paintings that we displayed on easels, and some material, like my Wacom tablet, my camera, some stamps, some paintings, and a stack of postcards to give away.

A lot of girls at the school wore head scarves. All the children seemed very happy, although quite a few were very shy and sometimes I was obliged to ask them to repeat their question because their voice was too low. At the end of the event, I asked the principal about the origin of some of the children and she told me that they are East African refugees, mostly Somali. Some of them could not go to school because their schools were closed, and some of them have spent years in refugee camps without any school.

A lot of children were very interested in my business card: it represents one of my paintings “Middle East” and I had a lot of questions concerning that image. I think somehow we were connected by that painting, they wanted to know why I painted it.

I could not believe how interested they were by what was going on at the school that day, asking us questions, asking me how I spend my day, how I chose to paint what I paint, why did I choose to become an artist. They were so much in the present of that day, hungry for knowledge, curious, hopeful, alive. Nothing on their juvenile faces was telling us about the atrocities some of them may have seen.

It reminded me a little bit more how lucky I am not to live in a war zone and how lucky my boys are to wake up and to play with their favorite toys before to get a good breakfast and to go to school… All things we take for granted.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another World is Possible

Limbo - 3, 2008, face-mounted digital print, 24x24"

My friend Ivan (poet, painter, writer and more...),
who is French and lives in Paris,

Ecoutons sans juger
Regardons sans comparer
Et partageons cela.

English translation:

Let's talk without judging
Let's watch without comparing
And let's share it.

These words have been on my mind. It definitely feels like it is the right thing to do but it represents quite a revolution. By doing this we would stop all of our personal ongoing wars, and it would make the world a much better place to live. Every day I can see how judging and comparing breeds jealousy, envy, misery, at every level of society.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The monster and the Tree

Today was a “small sculptures day” at the house. That is what I really enjoy about being an artist and having children: everyday they come up with new ideas - easily it seems to me - and what they do inspires me, inspires my work. There is a lot of freshness and a lot of joy when they create something. For years before having them, I was thinking “there is no way I can do my art and have children, it is not compatible.” In fact now I think it is, and I can tell that my work took a different path when I started to paint again after having both of my children. It changed my perspective on life, my way to see things. It gave me energy –even if sometimes I feel that I don’t have enough to do all the things I want to do.

I will never know what would have been my path if I did not have kids, but what I know is that having them brought me unexpected developments in my artistic practice.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Opening of the New Children’s Museum in San Diego

Last Sunday we went to the “block party” for the inauguration of the Children’s Museum downtown, next to the Convention Center. We took the trolley to get there which was really nice. When we arrived at the museum, there were people everywhere and the line to get into the museum was wrapped around the block and it was impossible to see the end of it…

But we were lucky enough to see the parade in the street: a colorful ensemble of banners made by children.

We decided not to stay and to go for a walk at Seaport Village instead, where there was the Air Show and it was pretty packed with people too!

We will definitely go back to check out the new museum. We waited a long time to get it, so it is great news that it is open - at last! On a program on KPBS about the opening of the museum, I heard about a “pillow-fight room” which seems full of promises!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Between my last solo show and now

Mac 2000, Espace Eiffel, Paris, France

The last solo exhibition I had was in 2000 in Paris where I exhibited paintings and monotypes. Between 1999 and 2004, I travelled to New Mexico and Arizona for a few months, met my husband in Santa Fe, went back and forth between Paris and Santa Fe, worked at the Printmaking Center at the College of Santa Fe on a series of monotypes, got married, moved from Paris to New Mexico, then moved to Austin Texas, where I worked on a new series of monotypes at Flatbed Press, participated in different group shows in galleries, had a first child, moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, had a second child, and finally moved to San Diego, California, in 2004, were I settled down with my family. I started a new series of paintings in January 2005, and a few months after, I started to work on digital images.

After moving frequently (due to my husband’s work), meeting different people, experiencing different climates and being immersed in a different language, I appreciate continuing my journey in San Diego, where I have found a rhythm in my work while living next to the ocean and the desert, which are my balance. After spending four years here, relationships can mature and I feel like I belong to a community.

But I have enjoyed all of the places where I have lived. I do not miss Paris, though I miss my friends and my family, and I remember the comfort and familiarity of the place where I lived for twenty years: a solid network of people, a web of trust and friendship throughout the town and beyond!

It takes time to do it all over again!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Tribute to Henry David Thoreau

Give me Truth - 1, 2008, 8"x8", acrylic on wood panel

Give me Truth - 2, 2008, 8"x8", acrylic on wood panel

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth."
Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, May 1, 2008

We are floating in space

Peace - 5, 2008, 12x12", acrylic on canvas

Our galaxy, a spiral disk of 200 billion stars - and one of billions of galaxies known - is traveling through intergalactic space. Traveling through intergalactic space...
Meanwhile - and being well aware of that mind blowing fact - humans continue to lose their sanity in endless conflicts of all sorts.

text stamped on Peace #5:
Pas de bruit dans la galaxie
les planetes tournent
en fermant les yeux

No noise in the galaxy
the planets rotate
closing their eyes